Author Topic: Paper, and papers, and professors... oh my!  (Read 5110 times)

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CakeEater

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Paper, and papers, and professors... oh my!
« on: July 17, 2013, 05:48:05 AM »
Don't you guys use A4 paper in the US? Elsewhere?

Also, I was just catching up with the Student Darwinism thread, and there was a lot of talk about assignments being set at '3 pages' or '10 pages'. Here in Australia, the standard seems to me to be a word limit rather than a set number of pages. So a fairly normal essay for a year 12 student might be 800-1000 words, rather than 3 pages. Many of my essays at university were 1500 words long. You get about 10% leeway either side.

Maybe it was in that thread as well, but I've also heard elsewhere people from the US talking about their professors letting them know their grades were slipping, or knowing their professors personally.

I usually only had lecturers for one 12-week subject, during which I would sit in a lecture hall with 100 or so others, and then hand in 2 assignments and do a final exam, often with just my student number attached. There was no way the vast majority of my lecturers would have known me from a bar of soap, and there certainly wasn't enough assessment for them to know the usual standard of my work, let alone whether a particular piece was up to that standard or not. And I went to a tiny university in comparison with many of the others here. And I don't remember one occasion during my whole degree when I had to go and speak to a lecturer about something personally.

Oh, and we call them lecturers, rather than professors, here

paintpots

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Re: Paper, and papers, and professors... oh my!
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2013, 06:30:46 AM »
I'm from the UK, and A4 is the standard paper size here.

Same for us with papers at University - mine were all set word counts, usually 3000 for a regular essay, increasing for a dissertation.

I did know my lecturers quite well though - we had a lot of tutorials (small study sessions with 3-4 students), and they led our labs as well which could often be quite small. My DOS (Director of Studies) would definitely have said something if I repeatedly turned in supbar work, and I'm still in touch with.

We also have lecturers here too. A Professor is the highest status you can achieve in academia (well, I suppose apart from Head of Department/ School and Pro-vice/Vice Chancellor) in the UK, and everyone below that is addressed as Dr X, although their job title might be Senior Research Associate, Reader, Junior Lecturer.

Another thing that confuses me is the idea of signing up for courses. Here you go to University for 3/4 years to study a specific subject e.g. engineering, modern languages etc. Often you can take modules from other lectures (in theory all lectures are open to anyone who is interested), and they can count, but that's unusual, and you're generally pretty concentrated.

Sharnita

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Re: Paper, and papers, and professors... oh my!
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2013, 07:04:14 AM »
As far as paper size, for school work we generally use 81/2 by 11.  I don't know how that translates as far as A4.

Classes can vary quite a bit.  Some do tend to be mostly lecture with 100 or more students in a hall so the prof wouldn't have a chance to know you during class.  However, students are still encourages to visit the prof during office hours to ask questions, discuss papers, etc.  Some classes might be smaller. Almost all grad classes are significantly smaller and in a grad program you are likely to have the chance to see a prof in more than one course.  Many classes, even undergrad, require students to do independent or small group presentations to the class so the prof tends to get to know people a bit that way.

As far as paper length, sometimes they do refer to word count, although students still tend to talk in terms of "pages".  However, for longer papers they tend to discuss page range - "No less than 20 but no more than 30".

There can be a broad range of courses in some programs, less so in others.  For example, in English I might have a huge variety of literature classes - Three different time periods of American literature alone, Modern Poetry, Shakespeare, Latin American Literature ... and that is just the literature. There are writing classes and so forth.  You can really pick what you want and nobody's English major looks exactly like anybody else's.  Now if you are going into nursing your classes are pretty specific.  You have a few electives - this English class or that one but other than that it is pretty regimented.

faithlessone

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Re: Paper, and papers, and professors... oh my!
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2013, 08:10:58 AM »
UK here!

I went to a reasonably big university, but my course (Classics & Archaeology) was fairly small. My biggest lecture class (1st year required course) had less than 100 students. Aside from lectures (1 or 2 hours, once a week), we also had seminars. These were between 1 and 3 hours, once or twice a week, depending on the course, and led by either a lecturer or one of the post-grad students. Seminar groups were usually between 8 and 12 people, so you got to know your seminar leader fairly well. The faculty wasn't particularly large either, so if you did several similar modules, you might have the same lecturer/seminar leader for more than 1 course.

Our lecturers were mostly Drs with a few plain Mr/Mrs. There were several Masters and PhD students leading seminars. Of my faculty, I think there were only 2 actual "Professors" - that's a different qualification here, I think.

Essays were assigned with wordcounts, not page numbers. We did have to format them specifically though - Times New Roman or Cambria, size 12, with specific margins and headers.

There was a very wide variety of "modules" which counted towards your course. As mine was "Classics and Archaeology", some people chose to stick firmly to one or the other, but most did a mixture of the two. In the first year, there were "required modules" (intros to archaeology, classical myth, greek and roman history), but there was a lot of scope for you to do whatever interested you. For example, I stuck to mostly Classical Literature/Theatre/Greek Language modules, with a little archaeology for variation. You could choose modules from other courses, but you were only allowed to do 15 credits (of a total 120) per year, and if a module was oversubscribed, the people on that course had priority.

ETA: We were also encouraged to discuss essays with both seminar leaders and lecturers, to get a wider perspective on our grades.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2013, 08:18:59 AM by faithlessone »

Thipu1

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Re: Paper, and papers, and professors... oh my!
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2013, 08:19:57 AM »
8.5/11 inch paper isn't quite the same size as A4 but it's very similar. In the library we often had correspondence from Europe on A4.  It was a little longer but not quite as wide as our 8.5/11.  The difference was just enough to make the letters fit oddly into US file folders. 

Class sizes can vary greatly.  First year survey courses can be very large because everyone has to take them. 

Once you start getting into your major, class size can go down dramatically.  There's also a lot more interaction between students and faculty.  You're often assigned a faculty advisor who will discuss any problems and help you choose courses.  You and your advisor will usually meet at least once a semester.

In graduate school, things can get downright informal. In one course, there were only three students.  Because there was a lot of interaction in class, we were asked if we wanted a final exam or not.  Meetings with instructors were often held at a local coffee place. 

cwm

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Re: Paper, and papers, and professors... oh my!
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2013, 03:11:10 PM »
US here. As to class size, we had the massive lectures where I couldn't even tell you a single other person's name in the course. But for my music courses, even the lecture style ones only had about 45 students, and the professor knew all of us by sight and most of us by name. And for the rest of the music courses, we could have as few as four or five students in a class.

I had one great professor in my electives who took his time to know all of his students. By two weeks in he'd recognize each of our faces and one or two things about us. That course had about 25 students in it. But the lecture hall-type courses they wouldn't know any of us or whether we were there or not. Attendance was taken by a sheet circulating around the room, and more often than not I'd see one person with a list of names that they'd write down, and it was always a different person.

Some of the instructors had us worry about word count, some of them did page count. It's fairly standard, though, how many words are on a page. One instructor told us the paper should be 5-8 pages, and if the paper went to 9 pages, he'd stop reading at page 8 and grade you on that. He instituted that policy when he said 5-8 pages and someone actually turned in a 20 page paper on the topic. It failed, having only presented one point by page 8, but he did give that student a second chance to cut it down.

CakeEater

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Re: Paper, and papers, and professors... oh my!
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2013, 04:57:32 PM »
How common is it to go to graduate school straight after finishing your undergraduate degree?

I'm a primary school teacher. I did a 4-year degree, made up of 36 subjects which gave me a bachelor of education. It's extremely uncommon in that field, anyway, and many other degree courses, to do a master's level degree immediately. Some do a master's degree 10-20 years later.

I also get the impression that you go off to college in the US and do all sorts of subjects in different areas. That's pretty uncommon here too. You would usually do a degree in nursing, or law, or pychology, or acounting, and follow a fairly prescribed set of subjects.

I only picked 4 elective subjects in four years, and they had to all be from a specific area. So out of my 36 subjects, I could have done 4 electives all in the area of early childhood education, or literature, or history etc. The rest all just appeared on my timetable. And because my uni was pretty small, there was no planning my own timetable. It came prescribed as well.

Sharnita

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Re: Paper, and papers, and professors... oh my!
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2013, 05:10:33 PM »
For teachers I think it tends to be a bit diffetent. To keep my teaching cerification I need so many credits every so many years. Once I get it remewed, the clock resets and I have to restart. The first do many had to be grad ctedits. So I waited a few years, started my grad program, tenewed with my credits part way through, finished my program and renewed again eith the second half of the credits.

camlan

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Re: Paper, and papers, and professors... oh my!
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2013, 05:21:11 PM »


I also get the impression that you go off to college in the US and do all sorts of subjects in different areas. That's pretty uncommon here too. You would usually do a degree in nursing, or law, or pychology, or acounting, and follow a fairly prescribed set of subjects.

I only picked 4 elective subjects in four years, and they had to all be from a specific area. So out of my 36 subjects, I could have done 4 electives all in the area of early childhood education, or literature, or history etc. The rest all just appeared on my timetable. And because my uni was pretty small, there was no planning my own timetable. It came prescribed as well.

There are exceptions, but most US colleges and universities do require a mix of courses. There are usually "core courses" or "core requirements" that have every student taking 2 math courses, 2 science courses, two humanities courses and two social science courses, for example.  Or sometimes students have to take two courses where math is a large component, but the courses that are designated to fill that requirement could be in physics, or engineering or some other subject area.

Most students have some electives, but these can be any course the student wants to take, as long as they meet the requirements for the courses. Some programs, like nursing, are very rigid with the courses required and the students don't get many electives. The number of electives you might have depends on the number of required courses for your major and how you fulfill your core requirements.

Many colleges and universities have requirements for writing, math and languages. So you have to take certain courses that meet the university's requirements--Freshman English is a good example. Some universities have placement exams given to freshmen, or they use SAT scores, to determine if students need additional math classes or foreign language classes.

I think the reason for the difference lies in the high school education the US requires vs. the UK. I get the impression that high school students in the UK are already specializing a bit in various subject areas, while the typical US high school requires math, English, history, and science for all the students.

Most degrees in the US require 4 years of college. If I'm not mistaken, some universities in the UK have 3 year programs? That could affect the differences, as well.
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Sharnita

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Re: Paper, and papers, and professors... oh my!
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2013, 05:46:47 PM »
Yeah, we had to take a placement test.  Absolutely everyone had to do at least some English - the placement test determined where you started.  Somehow the grace of God allowed me to test out of any math.  Everyone had to do some science - I did more than the minimum.  There was at least one "art" - music or art appreciation required.  There was some sort of humanities/social studies requirement.  There was also a health/gym requirement.  I think the health part was at least partly because it was the early 90's and they felt the need to educate students about AIDS and other STDs. It didn't matter what your major/program you had to meet those requirements.  Everyone had to pass a writing test before graduating as well.

scotcat60

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Re: Paper, and papers, and professors... oh my!
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2013, 06:06:50 PM »
UK colleges and universities also have the personal tutor scheme, when a student is monitored by a member of staff as to their progress. I had one when I was at college.

Bluenomi

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Re: Paper, and papers, and professors... oh my!
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2013, 07:44:33 PM »
Aussie here. A4 and word counts were the way it was at uni. And quote didn't count towards the word limit so you couldn't bulk out your essay that way.

Most degrees are 3 years but some are 4 years and inculde honours as part of it and most combinded degrees (eg arts/law) are 5. You can do honours straight after your degree which is usually a year and then the post grad stuff after that to get your masters, PHD etc.

Not all my lecturers were professors, some had never got to that level of education and the tutors usually didn't either. Unless your tutor was also your lecturer, they wouldn't know you from anyone else, especially in the large classes. In my first year communicatipons class there was over 200 of us, no way anyone could have known all of us. On the other hand by the time I got to my 3rd year media class the lecturer knew all of us because there was only about 15 students.

Paying for uni works differently in Aus as well. You don't get a student loan, you can apply for the government to pay for uni and once you are earning over a income, repayments are taken out of your pay with income tax. It doesn't get interest attached as such, it's indexed based on the CPI so it usually only goes up a small amount each year. The first few years after I finished uni I wasn't earning enough to pay any of it off and in the end it took me about 10 years to clear my HECS debit. It doesn't hang over you head though, if you die, it just goes away, nobody else has to pay it and if you move overseas you don't need to make repayments if you aren't paying Australian income tax. The bank bascially ignored it when we got our home loan, they don't consider it a debit.

It is cheaper to pay for uni up front but most people I know didn't unless they had parents with plenty of cash to pay for it! DH's parents paid for his, mostly because it cost them less than half of what it cost them to put BIL through flight school.

Library Dragon

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Re: Paper, and papers, and professors... oh my!
« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2013, 08:07:07 PM »
While A4 and 8.5x11 isn't much different it can make your papers look odd if you don't adjust. DH would email a professor in Belgium a paper and they couldn't figure out why it looked odd when printed.  The professor said it looked like he was shorting the essay even though the word count was right.  I changed his default setting to A4. 

When I taught at a university my default was number of words. It prevented the huge font and wide margin problems.

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kherbert05

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Re: Paper, and papers, and professors... oh my!
« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2013, 11:53:50 PM »
We had a page count, but as computers came in it turned to a word count.


I had one class that was the entire Freshman Class - called Freshman Symposium. We were the first class to have it - it was NOT a hit.  For most of my other classes usually it was 10 - 15 people and went down as you got into more specialized classes for your major. Everyone got out in 4 years, going 5 or 6 like my cousins did at UT, UH, TexasTech was unheard of. Most of my cousins had problems because they couldn't get a class they needed and that put them a semester behind because they couldn't move on to other courses until they had that course. They all did summer school to try and fix that problem.


Our Admin basically knew exactly how many students were going to need X class Y semester and had that many places plus a few more spaces for those from other departments that would need the class. But my university was smaller than my High School.
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RingTailedLemur

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Re: Paper, and papers, and professors... oh my!
« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2013, 04:13:02 AM »

Most degrees in the US require 4 years of college. If I'm not mistaken, some universities in the UK have 3 year programs? That could affect the differences, as well.

Not some - most.  The standard degree in the UK is a BSc or BA and takes 3 years.